Tuesday, May 31, 2011


grace |grās|
* simple elegance or refinement of movement : she moved through the water with effortless grace.
* courteous goodwill : at least he has the grace to admit his debt to her.
* ( graces) an attractively polite manner of behaving : she has all the social graces.

Reading this definition this morning, I realized, with some surprise, how much grace there is in my classes. To take the first definition, there is, indeed, a simple elegance in our movements around the room – not the elegance of dancers, certainly, but very much like the ordinary elegance of breezes blowing past us or clouds carrying themselves across the sky. My students and I move the way we need to move – shifting in our seats, turning to take in what someone is saying, raising our hands – and we move the way human bodies mostly move, in a fairly fluid manner – with gracefulness, you might say. There’s also, generally, an abundant amount of courteous goodwill in my classes. This may be due, in part, to the fact that I insist on it, but it also arises, I think, from the sincere, unselfconscious kindness of the students. Most of my students don’t have to try to behave with civility; they do it quite naturally, the way sunlight shines. Lastly, there is a look of politeness in my classroom, the kind of good manners that made “the old days” so appealing to some of us. The students remain standing at the start of class until I officially welcome them all, and they hold the chair on their left until the person is comfortably seated. When a visitor enters, the students rise out of respect, and we always thank each other at the end of class. This is grace of a certain kind, I guess – an extraordinary kind that creates a daily sense of fulfillment and simple happiness for their senior citizen teacher.

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